This year marks the 10th year we’ve created a specially-designed Christmas mug and plate set. Since I realised it’s been a decade, I’ve been wondering how many of you have the full set of ten, and if you use them all year, or only take them out over the holiday? Last month, when we were setting up our Country Shop for the final months of the year, I had a moment of pure delight at rediscovering the decorations and a thrill at the very ritual of decorating. While our pottery is to be used every day, I understand there’s something to be said for reserving certain pieces for rare occasions.
Sometimes the idea for a design is just there, but sometimes it can take a few months. The process for this year’s Starlight mug and plate set started during the balmier and brighter months of the summer that couldn’t feel further from the smells and tastes of Christmas! How to kindle some Christmassy inspiration out-of-season? A simple trick of the senses, so I can time travel to the right zone for seasonal ideas. I seek out spice. Wafts from freshly baked gingerbread and the smell from sprigs of fir cut from the garden are powerful. I’ve also found that simply lifting the lid of a jar of cloves and letting the aroma escape can easily transport me to Christmas. Try it and see what happens!
I hope to capture some of the wild energy of Willy Wonka or the carnival spirit, albeit in a wintery version, of an ever-turning beachside Ferris wheel.
These physical nudges also take me close to the wonder and awe at the whole marvellous spectacle of Christmas felt by children and grandchildren; Christmas lights, fantasies of workshops in Lapland, sweetie encrusted gingerbread houses, hypnotic swirling spirals of candy canes, dancing gingerbread cookies, glistening baubles, the undulating rhythm of garlands and ribbons strung around a room. These motifs all find their way onto the pottery, and, hopefully, when you are using one of our Christmas mugs it’s easy to imagine the sound of music boxes jingling and feel internal starbursts of excitement.
Festivals like St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Valentine’s Day, that represent times of connection and coming together, inspire the creation of something specific and special.
One favourite of mine from the 10-year back catalogue is Snowflakes from 2018. It’s an abstract series of colourful bursts, like celebratory fireworks exploding in turn and smaller flickering blue after lights. I’m probably most fond of the jolly red Berry Bird from 2020, with its jaunty crest. It perches on an almost leafless winter branch. There’s a lovely balance between the sparseness of this and the lively dots of the berries.
In 2020, for our Berry Bird pattern we introduced a Rectangular Plate to compliment the Large Mug.
The Berry Bird plate was also very pretty. The perfect size for a table display with an assemblage of autumnal bric-a-brac - pinecones, conkers and colourful fallen leaves. Holly sprigs and trails of ivy can be added in December. Arranged around a pillar candle it all looks so pretty. The plate is the perfect size to also fit, on Christmas eve, a little tumbler of port and a mince pie for Santa and, not forgetting the reindeer, a carrot or two.